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Consider A.

 

A, it is claimed is not physical.

 

Furthermore A is not a property of something physical.

 

Finally A is not observable, i.e. it is not something anyone can be conscious of.

 

 

I think it is clear such a thing as A, when formulated as above, must be supernatural.  If A is NOT supernatural, what is the distinction between purported properties, attributes, natures of things which are supernatural (and hence invalid) and this A which is natural? 

I'll address your descriptions one at a time:

 

1. Almost--it is claimed it is not a physical attribute. The physical has attributes we describe as physical, but those attributes themselves are not physical, they are what "make" the physical what it is.(Actually they are what it is, "an entity is the sum of all its attributes.") The claim is that there are addition possible attributes in nature that are not those of the physical, but as attributes can only be manifest in entities that already have physical attributes, such as life, which as an additional attribute of a natural entity that makes an merely physical entity a living one, an organism.

2. Well it is a property of something physical, because it is a property of an organism, it is just not a physical property, because the physical properties alone only result in unconscious dead matter. It is the additional property of life that makes it possible for otherwise dead matter to be a living organism.

3. It cannot be observed by perception, the way the properties of the physical can, but it certainly can be observed by the result of its existence in every living organism. The next level of non-physical natural properties is consciousness, which, just as life can only be a property of physical entities, consciousness can only be a property of living organisms. Like all properties, they are not something added to or done to the entities they are the properties of. Like all properties they do not exist independently of the entities they are the properties of, they are the entities.

Volitional consciousness (the mind--intellect, reason, volition) is, like life and consciousness, the final level of properties which makes it possible for a living conscious organism to consciously choose, reason, and gain knowledge. Consciousness is certainly observable, unless one denies their own consciousness. Consciousness cannot be perceived because it has no physical attributes to perceive, but consciousness cannot be denied.

There is nothing supernatural about life, consciousness, and the human mind, they are just existents with all the properties of the physical, with those additional properties that make them the kind of entities they are. The fact that there are entities with those properties is all the evidence that is needed to observe them. Why so many people are terrified there might be properties of the real natural world that cannot be reduced to the mere physical I think is a bit of mystery. My view does not suggest anything beyond what we can know by means of what we can be directly conscious of (physical existence) and the fact that we are conscious and that there are living, and conscious, and volitional beings, which physical attributes alone cannot explain.

Can everything be explained in terms of physical attributes? I do not think so, but would be delighted if they were, because anything that truly explains is the truth, which is what I live by and for. I have no objection to the possible discovery of a physical expanation of life, consciousness, and the human mind, it's just that the best evidence I presently have, and the best reason of which I am capable does not convince me such a discovery is possible. In fact it is quite the opposite.

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Sorry about that Regi F. I obviously misinterpreted something here.

Along the way, I think we both might have. This is not an easy subject and the nature of the language relative to consciousness is extremely ambiguous.

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I'll address your descriptions one at a time:

 

1. Almost--it is claimed it is not a physical attribute. The physical has attributes we describe as physical, but those attributes themselves are not physical, they are what "make" the physical what it is.(Actually they are what it is, "an entity is the sum of all its attributes.") The claim is that there are addition possible attributes in nature that are not those of the physical, but as attributes can only be manifest in entities that already have physical attributes, such as life, which as an additional attribute of a natural entity that makes an merely physical entity a living one, an organism.

2. Well it is a property of something physical, because it is a property of an organism, it is just not a physical property, because the physical properties alone only result in unconscious dead matter. It is the additional property of life that makes it possible for otherwise dead matter to be a living organism.

3. It cannot be observed by perception, the way the properties of the physical can, but it certainly can be observed by the result of its existence in every living organism. The next level of non-physical natural properties is consciousness, which, just as life can only be a property of physical entities, consciousness can only be a property of living organisms. Like all properties, they are not something added to or done to the entities they are the properties of. Like all properties they do not exist independently of the entities they are the properties of, they are the entities.

Volitional consciousness (the mind--intellect, reason, volition) is, like life and consciousness, the final level of properties which makes it possible for a living conscious organism to consciously choose, reason, and gain knowledge. Consciousness is certainly observable, unless one denies their own consciousness. Consciousness cannot be perceived because it has no physical attributes to perceive, but consciousness cannot be denied.

There is nothing supernatural about life, consciousness, and the human mind, they are just existents with all the properties of the physical, with those additional properties that make them the kind of entities they are. The fact that there are entities with those properties is all the evidence that is needed to observe them. Why so many people are terrified there might be properties of the real natural world that cannot be reduced to the mere physical I think is a bit of mystery. My view does not suggest anything beyond what we can know by means of what we can be directly conscious of (physical existence) and the fact that we are conscious and that there are living, and conscious, and volitional beings, which physical attributes alone cannot explain.

Can everything be explained in terms of physical attributes? I do not think so, but would be delighted if they were, because anything that truly explains is the truth, which is what I live by and for. I have no objection to the possible discovery of a physical expanation of life, consciousness, and the human mind, it's just that the best evidence I presently have, and the best reason of which I am capable does not convince me such a discovery is possible. In fact it is quite the opposite.

 

I buy most of what you say here.

 

I would rephrase the last bit to "Can everything be explained in terms of physical entities" and then to "Is everything dependent upon physical entities that comprise them?" and I would say yes, and I would say it would have to be so.

 

When you die your consciousness ceases to exist.  I do not believe anything "natural" leaves you when you die.  Your consciousness ceases to exist and function which I think means your matter/nature has been sufficiently rearranged or interrupted so as not to exhibit your consciousness.  There is no soul which leaves your body instead it is a property or a way of functioning by your matter which has stopped...  As for evidentiary issues, there is every reason to believe that consciousness, if it is not supernatural and is not matter as such, is a particular kind of property exhibited by or a particular functioning of a physical system.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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Memory is only perception of perceptual material

No; perception is perception of the perceptual.

Rand also wrote about the "purity of your soul", which could be interpreted as a reference to something supernatural.  You're dropping the context of her writing style.

She could be very precise when she wanted to be, and also very metaphorical; I have yet to read an author with more capacity for the figurative.  That's what every provided quote amounts to.

 

If one were to interpret them all literally, as you have, they would contradict every other part of Objectivism's anatomy- and I do literally mean every part.

 

If consciousness had no relation to matter (as you're insinuating) then there would be no reason whatsoever for property rights.  If we were incapable of introspection (as you've also insinuated) then philosophy itself could not exist.  How does one formulate a radically new epistemology without the capacity to know about one's own knowledge?

 

Taken altogether, your assertions have contradicted (directly and indirectly) every single idea she advocated.

And you are attempting to say that they all stem from your interpretation of what she wrote (in rough drafts that she thought unfit to publish, as well?)- why do you believe that they mean what you think they do?

 

Because I think that with someone who was so passionate about logic, if I were to see multiple ways to interpret any given statement and one of them led to a contradiction, I might think to myself "Gee, maybe that's the incorrect one".

---

 

I'm not saying she was perfect.  What I am saying is that you're stretching her words to the very limits of what they could possibly mean, with the result essentially contradicting everything else simultaneously.

 

To be perfectly frank, I do not believe she was capable of making errors of such proportions.

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Its always interesting watching people dance in circles around the ontological question: "What is an entity?"..... There really is no other question being argued here.

Regi, unfortunately Ms. Rand was not integrated on these issues:

materials" is not a separate

metaphysical category, because materials

cannot exist except in the form of entities of

some kind, nor can entities exist without

materials. That is, physical entities.

Prof. B: But in what way is that different

from the relation of attributes and entities?

Or relations and entities?.......

AR: "Materials" is an abstraction we use to

denote what all physical entities have in

common. The things which we call physical

entities are all made of some kind of

material. But you can't consider one witliout

the other.

Prof. E: Would it be correct to say that

"material" is a classification of attributes of

entities?

Prof. B: Entities qua possessing certain

attributes.

AR: In a way, yes. ....

ITOE Edited by Plasmatic

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SL said:

Can everything be explained in terms of physical entities" and then to "Is everything dependent upon physical entities that comprise them?" and I would say yes, and I would say it would have to be so.

I agree and would add that "physical entities" is redundant... But I whole heartedly accept that this makes me a type of "materialist", just not the kind that eliminates consciousness .....

When you die your consciousness ceases to exist. I do not believe anything "natural" leaves you when you die. Your consciousness ceases to exist and function which I think means your matter/nature has been sufficiently rearranged or interrupted so as not to exhibit your consciousness

Exactly. Just like digestion. Edited by Plasmatic

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I think we are talking about two different things. We are certainly conscious or our own conscious acts, our choices, feeling, thoughts, etc. What I mean is just as we cannot consciously perceive anyone's else's consciousness:

 

[The Journals of Ayn Rand, "14 - Notes While Writing Galt's Speech"

"Mind and Body"]

"No consciousness can perceive another consciousness, only the results of its actions in material form, since only matter is an object of perception..."

 

... we cannot perceive out own concsious, for the same reason, because it is not a physical object of perception. We are conscious of what we are consciously doing, but we cannot perceive that consciousness as a thing, because it has none of the qualities of the physical that can be perceived. I don't think this is at all arcane.

The mystery arises by trying to get 'underneath' consciousness. Like existence and identity, their axiomatic status' are both all bolstered by the inability to do so.

 

Albeit that I cannot perceive or be conscious of what you are experiencing as consciousness, I do infer that it is likely to be similar to what I experience, discounting for anomalies such as colorblindness, pitch deafness, etc. This is inferred the same way that the same variety of tomato or apple is going to have commonality of taste, texture, etc.. Studying the one provides knowledge relevant to the others.

 

You also mentioned the challenge of discussing arising from the imprecision of terminology. Given Miss Rand's recent (in the scheme of things) groundbreaking assessment of concepts, previously 'the problem of universals', it will be some time before this approach will be implemented on any widespread basis. In the meantime, the inroads get developed on an 'as required' or 'as needed' basis.

Edited by dream_weaver

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When you die your consciousness ceases to exist.  I do not believe anything "natural" leaves you when you die.  Your consciousness ceases to exist and function which I think means your matter/nature has been sufficiently rearranged or interrupted so as not to exhibit your consciousness.  There is no soul which leaves your body instead it is a property or a way of functioning by your matter which has stopped...  As for evidentiary issues, there is every reason to believe that consciousness, if it is not supernatural and is not matter as such, is a particular kind of property exhibited by or a particular functioning of a physical system.

 

Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Death means that those attributes that were life, consciousness, and the mind are no longer attributes of the now dead matter (corpse). Life, consciousness, and death did not go anywhere, they just ceased to be attributes of the entity that was the organism, just as the breathing and digestion cease to be attributes of the organism.

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Its always interesting watching people dance in circles around the ontological question: "What is an entity?"..... There really is no other question being argued here.

Regi, unfortunately Ms. Rand was not integrated on these issues:

ITOE

I was sure I responded to this, but apparently not.

What I thought I said was that your thought reminds of an issue I've long had with Objectivism that there is no ontology, and the only metaphysics consists of the three axioms: existence, consciousness, and identity, which is good, but hardly a complete metaphysics, and Objectivism practically ignores the most important of them, beyond stating A is A, but they never bother asking, what exactly is A. That would have been the beginning of a sound ontology (and cure for many of Objectivism's mistakes).

They do actually know what A is, because they (Rand and Peikoff) say "a thing is whatever it attributes are," but they never make the ontological connection.

Your quote about the concept material is a good example. Rand does tend to confuse terms, such as "material" and "physical" to refer to the same concept, or sensation and perception, sometimes within the space of a few paragraphs. I do not mean these as criticisms, just one of the things one has to be careful of when reading Rand.

The passage you quoted from ITOE is about a different use of the word material, which I think Rand was mistaken about (but I think she was aware of the problem. I think it is easy to become enamored of a term that seems to answer everything, and then to rationalize away evidence or reasoning that seems to make the term doubtful. Rand's attempt to insist that all existence is entities is the problem here. The better term would be existents (which she uses when she wants to include epistemological "entities"). Obviously an ice sculpture, an iron frying pan, and a plastic bag are entities, but the meaning of the concepts ice, iron, and plastic or not entities. The Objectivists try to explain this away by saying all examples of material exist as entities, like an ice sculpture, frying pan, or bag. Materials are substances that do not have to exist in the form of entities at all. They exist physically and have definite physical properties by which they are identified, but surely atmosphereic water, smoke, and volcanic magma, are not entities.

The problem is not serious and easily remedied. Materials are substances. Everything that exists physically consists of some substance or substances, and most substances exist in the form of entities, but not all. I think the attempt to force all matrial existence into the concept of entities, is a mistake. Not a horrible one, but conceptually limiting. When discussing exitents as substances, like water, it is only the properties of water as a subtance that need to be addressed, not water in the form of an entity.  In order to have entites composed of substances, you first have to have the substances. Existents is just the better term because it subsumes both entities and substances.

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<snip> Materials are substances that do not have to exist in the form of entities at all. <snip>

I'll have to consider that the next time I find a lump of gold or copper, or some other material lying about in "pure" form. A "lump" of material qualifies as an entity in my book any day. Sculptures, pans and bags are just reshaping that matter to fit one's purpose.

 

As to ontology, Plasmatic and others have raised that issue at least here, What is the role of ontology in Oism, if not other threads as well. There are some interesting points raised therein.

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"Consciousness is certainly observable...... Consciousness cannot be perceived....."

 

This to me is a contradiction.  I can't differentiate "observation" and "perception" as you seem to be doing. 

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"Everything that exists physically consists of some substance or substances, and most substances exist in the form of entities, but not all."

 

An ENTITY is an objective product of mans perceptual mechanism.  What this means is that if man were to disappear tomorrow, the Universe would be nothing more than a swarming mass of particles.  MAN's sensual/perceptual/conceptual brain differentiates between a chair and a table, between a rock and volcanic magma.  This differentiation is not arbitrary - it is objective - but it is the product resulting from the particular nature of man's mind.  All "Entities" would disappear from the Universe tomorrow if man did.

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 ...but surely atmosphereic water, smoke, and volcanic magma, are not entities.

Why? In some senses, they aren't. In some senses, they are. Rand doesn't state this, but Peikoff makes a distinction of how fluids are entities in one sense but not another. I think his distinction is an implication of Rand's view.

Edited by Eiuol

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Ms. Rand followed Aristotle in a substance (ousia) view of ontology. I think she was right about that but she wasn't consistent when integrating this. I don't think that she was using a different sense of material here and I can post more quotes of her making similar claims about extension and then saying the opposite.

how would you project a physical object which had no length? You couldn't.........

Regi said:

Rand's attempt to insist that all existence is entities is the problem here. The better term would be existents (which she uses when she wants to include epistemological "entities"). Obviously an ice sculpture, an iron frying pan, and a plastic bag are entities, but the meaning of the concepts ice, iron, and plastic or not entities. The Objectivists try to explain this away by saying all examples of material exist as entities, like an ice sculpture, frying pan, or bag. Materials are substances that do not have to exist in the form of entities at all. They exist physically and have definite physical properties by which they are identified, but surely atmosphereic water, smoke, and volcanic magma, are not entities.

The problem here is the same one she tried to wrestle with when discussing taking a concept from the perceptual context and imputing it to a context where "it doesn't apply". There is no valid way to preserve meaning and form the concept "non material entity"! She was aware of this difficulty and resorted to "mental something" without realizing that is a restatement. She affirmed Aristotle's substance ontology in that section.

Water, smoke, and magma are all composed of entities.

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Buddah said:

An ENTITY is an objective product of mans perceptual mechanism. What this means is that if man were to disappear tomorrow, the Universe would be nothing more than a swarming mass of particles. MAN's sensual/perceptual/conceptual brain differentiates between a chair and a table, between a rock and volcanic magma. This differentiation is not arbitrary - it is objective - but it is the product resulting from the particular nature of man's mind. All "Entities" would disappear from the Universe tomorrow if man did.

You simply have no idea what objectivity is.

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"If consciousness had no relation to matter (as you're insinuating) ..."

 

Well I didn't know I insuated any such thing, since I quoted so many of Rands statements saying that matter is what consciousness is conscious of. Material existence is all there is to be conscious of, and consciousness is that what which directly perceives the physical (material) existence.

 

I'm sorry if I mislead you.

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The mystery arises by trying to get 'underneath' consciousness. Like existence and identity, their axiomatic status' are both all bolstered by the inability to do so.

 

Albeit that I cannot perceive or be conscious of what you are experiencing as consciousness, I do infer that it is likely to be similar to what I experience, discounting for anomalies such as colorblindness, pitch deafness, etc. This is inferred the same way that the same variety of tomato or apple is going to have commonality of taste, texture, etc.. Studying the one provides knowledge relevant to the others.

 

You also mentioned the challenge of discussing arising from the imprecision of terminology. Given Miss Rand's recent (in the scheme of things) groundbreaking assessment of concepts, previously 'the problem of universals', it will be some time before this approach will be implemented on any widespread basis. In the meantime, the inroads get developed on an 'as required' or 'as needed' basis.

Describing the nature of a thing is not attempting to get behind it or beneath it, as in attempting to explain why existense exists, or explaining the cause of consciousness as if it were not actually an aspect of the nature of conscious being. Describing the nature of a thing only explains exactly what it is one is talking about when they use the concept. Didn't Rand spend considerable effort explaining exactly what she meant by existence and what she meant by concsiousness?

 

I totally agree our individual conscious experiences are alike, even if we cannot directly perceive another's consciousness. It is unlikely that similar creatures with similar attributes could have attributes deriving from that nature that would be very different. The difference would be exactly what  you point out, differences in the physical and neurological aspects of a man, not consciousness itself.

 

Well I greatly admire Rand and appreciate the advances she made in philosophy. In some ways, because she was so affective, she inadvertently (and through no fault of her own) brought a halt to philosophical progress. Most of those who have discovered her philosophy are so dazzled by it, they think they have discovered all there is to ever be known about philosophy, and ceased all new philosophical enquiry.

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I'll have to consider that the next time I find a lump of gold or copper, or some other material lying about in "pure" form. A "lump" of material qualifies as an entity in my book any day. Sculptures, pans and bags are just reshaping that matter to fit one's purpose.

 

As to ontology, Plasmatic and others have raised that issue at least here, What is the role of ontology in Oism, if not other threads as well. There are some interesting points raised therein.

I do not regard the entity/matter question crucial. If we agree that matter exists, and that all existents are material, the rest is somewhat simantic. Philosophical issues are not resolved by agreement in the end, but by how each of us conceives reality, and we will only be right, philosophically, if what we think is in agreement with reality, not each other.

 

"Sculptures, pans and bags are just reshaping that matter to fit one's purpose." Yes, certainly, but here's the problem. What is that is reshaped to fit one's purpose? Yous say it is "matter." If matter is entities, shouldn't it be "Sculptures, pans and bags are just reshaping other entities to fit one's purpose?" That's why I say, in the end the issue seems like it could be semantic.

 

Thank  you so much for the link. I'll definitely have a look.

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Why? In some senses, they aren't. In some senses, they are. Rand doesn't state this, but Peikoff makes a distinction of how fluids are entities in one sense but not another. I think his distinction is an implication of Rand's view.

 

Water, smoke, and magma are all composed of entities.

I want to make it clear I definitely do not mean "substance" in any sense suggesting the Aristotelian ousia, or ultimate substance of some kind.

If Peikoff truly had some reservation about the use of the terms entity vs matter, or substance and entities, I think it would have to be similar to mine. I don't have a fierce disagreement with entity ontology, I think it is mostly imprecise. I would prefer the term "existent" to "entity" to cover the ambiguous cases regarding substances and the entities composed of them.

Perhaps magma could be considered composed of entities,  but water, and at least some kinds of smoke, like the purple smoke produced by the sublimation of iodine can only be considered composed of entities, if one regards atoms and molecules entities. Of course it would not be terrible to regard them as entities, but I do not. Atoms, and all sub-macro physics describes the behavior of the directly perceived physical world by means of very useful very powerful models. Atom, for example, is not a concept derived form direct observation of atoms, but from the long history of scientific investigation in chemistry. There are two reason I do not regard atoms as entities: the description of what is meant by atom has changed continuously since the concept was first introduce--that is the models keep changing, and the current model does not at all reflect what is meant by an entity.

   Every entity that exists must be different in some way from every other entity that exists. That is part of my ontology, but it should be obvious that if two things were identical in every way, they would not be two things. Existents exists because they are different from each other. The description of atoms makes them all identical, which is ok for a model, but not for physical existents.

Edited by Regi F.

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"Consciousness is certainly observable...... Consciousness cannot be perceived....."

 

This to me is a contradiction.  I can't differentiate "observation" and "perception" as you seem to be doing. 

Observation only means to discover something, some existent, event, attribute, or relationship, which might be physical or epistemological. If I observe a car going down the street it is by perceiving it. If I observe that Rand uses the words material and physical interchangeably, that observation is epistemological. i know I had to see the words to read them, but there is know we I could directly see how they are being used. I can discover that only by means of reason.

Edited by Regi F.

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"Everything that exists physically consists of some substance or substances, and most substances exist in the form of entities, but not all."

 

An ENTITY is an objective product of mans perceptual mechanism.  What this means is that if man were to disappear tomorrow, the Universe would be nothing more than a swarming mass of particles.  MAN's sensual/perceptual/conceptual brain differentiates between a chair and a table, between a rock and volcanic magma.  This differentiation is not arbitrary - it is objective - but it is the product resulting from the particular nature of man's mind.  All "Entities" would disappear from the Universe tomorrow if man did.

That's really going to tough on the animals that get left behind.

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Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Death means that those attributes that were life, consciousness, and the mind are no longer attributes of the now dead matter (corpse). Life, consciousness, and death did not go anywhere, they just ceased to be attributes of the entity that was the organism, just as the breathing and digestion cease to be attributes of the organism.

 

 

You now say life and consciousness are "attributes" of the entity.  

 

If a dead body is a physical entity, then your statement leads me to believe that "being alive" or "living" is an attribute of an entity, namely, matter or a physical system, but is not itself as such matter or a physical system.  So the what, the existent which has the attribute of "living" or "being alive" is matter or a physical system.  It is "what" the attribute is "of".

 

Consciousness is also an attribute, it is an attribute of a living entity.  More accurately, the physical system has two attributes, 1 "living" and 2. "conscious",  let's assume that having the attribute 1 is a precondition for any system to have as an attribute 2.

 

That does not change the fact that the "what" which has the attributes is matter or a physical system.

 

I assume you are not claiming that an attribute (living) of a physical system, itself has an attribute (consciousness)?  In any case, the second attribute (consciousness) according to the hierarchy is still an attribute of the base, i.e. matter or physical system.

 

 

If not matter or a physical system, WHAT has the attribute of "living" or "consciousness"?  and where does THAT go when all that is left upon dying is matter or a physical (non-functional) system?

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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You now say life and consciousness are "attributes" of the entity.  

I didn't change anything. Attributes aren't nothing, they are something. Life is an attribute, it is the thing that differentiates between mere lifeless matter and living organisms, and as an attribute of organisms, it cannot exist or have any meaning apart from organisms. An organism is a material existent with the attribute life, but that attribute cannot be produced by or arise from any organization of matter, because it is a unique attribute of nature not found in non-living matter, only in living organisms. (By matter I mean the physical.)

"If a dead body is a physical entity, then your statement leads me to believe that "being alive" or "living" is an attribute of an entity, namely, matter or a physical system, but is not itself as such matter or a physical system.  So the what, the existent which has the attribute of "living" or "being alive" is matter or a physical system.  It is "what" the attribute is "of".

Every attribute is an attribute "of" something. In the case of life, it is the attribute of a physical entity that is alive, an organism. Life depends on the physical in the sense that life is a process that sustains the organism as the kind of extent it is, but it is the life attribute that makes the process possible. If anything goes wrong with the physical aspects of the organism the process requires, the process will cease, the organism dies, and there is no longer any life attribute, but it is the attribute life that makes the process possible, No organization of matter or system of matter will ever produce the living process.

"Consciousness is also an attribute, it is an attribute of a living entity.  More accurately, the physical system has two attributes, 1 "living" and 2. "conscious",  let's assume that having the attribute 1 is a precondition for any system to have as an attribute 2."

That's correct.

"That does not change the fact that the "what" which has the attributes is matter or a physical system."

That's right. And it doesn't change or violate any physical principle or property of that physical system. It depends on those physical properties as the means of sustaining itself.

"I assume you are not claiming that an attribute (living) of a physical system, itself has an attribute (consciousness)?  In any case, the second attribute (consciousness) according to the hierarchy is still an attribute of the base, i.e. matter or physical system."

Attributes do have their own attributes, but consciousness is not an attribute of life, but of a living organism. Yes, consciousness is only possible to physical entities, so long as they are organisms, living physical entities.

If not matter or a physical system, WHAT has the attribute of "living" or "consciousness"?  and where does THAT go when all that is left upon dying is matter or a physical (non-functional) system?

It doesn't go anywhere anymore than the breathing and digestion go anywhere. They just cease to be.

I can only explain that by means of an analogy. Remember, it is only an analogy, but the principle is true, even within the analogy.

Consider some properties of the physical world. If you know some physics you know that all physical properties can ultimately be reduced to three characteristics, which no one  ever does because it would just be too clumsy, but it is still true. That attributes are position, motion, and acceleration. Every static physical relation can be described in terms of positional qualities, that is, every thing and every part of every thing can be identified in terms of the two measures of position, direction and distance. If there were a physical world with no other attributes than positional ones, it would be a totally static world. in order for there to be a dynamic world another kind of attribute is needed. No arrangement or organization of positional attributes can ever produce that other needed attribute. In order to have a dynamic world, there must be another attribute, motion. But motion is actually a result, not the actual cause of a dynamic world. All that is required to produce motion is change, because a change in position is motion.

In the same way that no arrangement of positions will every produce motion, not arrangement of motions will every produce acceleration, which is necessary for such attributes as mass, energy, and force etc. The only way to get acceleration in a world that is strictly position and motion is to introduce another change, because change of motion is acceleration.

The analogy is this. There is no way to organize or arrange the physical, that is, the world that can be described entirely in terms of position, motion, and acceleration, to produce life. The only way to get life is to introduce another change,  just as a change of motion produces acceleration, a change to the physical is required to produce or enable life. It is a perfectly natural attribute or level of existence, but it is one level beyond the physical, and our direct perception is limited to the first three levels of existence, position, motion, and acceleration.

The same is true of consciousness. Life cannot be organized or arranged to produce consciousness. To have consciousness another change is required, another lever of natural existence.

Notice, each level is totally dependent on the previous level, and never violates or changes any attribute of the previous level, and every level includes all the attributes of every previous level, motion includes all the positional attributes, acceleration includes all the positional and motion attributes and life includes all of those (which are the physical aspects of the organism) and consciousness includes all the attributes of life and the physical, and the human mind includes all the attributes of consciousness, life, and the physical. It is a sort of hierarchy of existence, the human mind being the top level of the hierarchy.

This is only an analogy. The properties of the physical are all always present in all things. The property life is only present in a very few physical things. The property of consciousness is in even fewer entities, and only in those that are living, that is organism. And the human mind is only present in a very few conscious organisms. Even if life, consciousness, and the mind did violate some physical properties, it would hardly be noticeable because they are such rare phenomena, but none of them violate any physical properties, and depend on them for their own existence. There is no conflict between life and physical existence, but one does not produce the other.

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That's really going to tough on the animals that get left behind.

You completely miss the point.  Man's perception (sight, smell, touch, taste, sound) of entities is as different from a dog's, as from a moth's as from a bat's as from a dolphin's as from an ant, as from a blind mole, etc.

 

Your quote "but surely atmosphereic water, smoke, and volcanic magma, are not entities."  could not be more wrong.  The reason you make it is because you do not distinguish between a percept and a concept.  The mind's perceptual mechanism automatically groups "smoke" as an entity as distinct from the cigarette or the person holding the cigarette, etc.

 

But man does not THINK at the level of automatically grouped entities (percepts).  He thinks conceptually.  Rand differentiates between perception (the act of receiving data through the senses) and percepts, the "form" of the data - which can only be grasped conceptually.  And I shouldn't to have to add, but I will - perception/percept does not just relate to vision.  Percept/perception relates to all the senses.

Edited by New Buddha

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